Here are many ways we stay 100% committed to our “robots for good” policy and taking a clear ethical stance in what we do:
We screen each sale to ensure our tech is used responsibly. Each proposal has the eyes of our Directors, and if we don’t like the idea, we won’t do it.
We listen to the opinions of our employees, for example, eight years ago we participated in a meat deboning project. After a staff review, we realised it didn’t sit well with our animal-loving, vegan and vegetarian employees. The next time such an offer came (robots in pig farming), we turned it down.
We would never sell our robots for military use. We are active campaigners against killer robots and have supported UNA-UK on their “stop killer robots” campaign. Our robots have been considered for bomb disposal tasks so that we can help prevent disasters from happening.
Every three months we have an internal review of what we are doing, where we are going and how we are making a difference with a representative number of people from the company to help keep us in check.
We submit a lot of proposals and get involved in many funded collaborations through Horizon2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. At the end of each proposal, the European Commission has a checklist, including an element on ethical management. Everything else in the proposal is scored, but the ethical questions are a pass or fail, which makes for a solid framework.
Our Managing Director, Rich Walker, sits on the Innovate UK “Robotics and Autonomous Systems” SIG Advisory Board, which lets him influence the direction the UK takes in robotics in a way that is ethical and makes sense to SMEs and innovators.
Rich is also a Director of euRobotics, and various EPSRC and University networks and committees around robotics, promoting the ethical use of robots within the industry.
The point of having a framework should be to prove that you are not building organisations that are detrimental to society by ignoring the effects of your actions on social commonwealth.